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Apple & Google have Blocked a COVID-19 App update for England and Wales for breaking the rule on collecting personal data



An update to England and Wales's contact tracing app has been blocked for breaking the terms of an agreement made with Apple and Google.


The BBC reports that "Just a week ago, the Department of Health seemed to think that the update to their contact tracing app would go through without problems.


It's hard to understand why. After all, the rules for using the Apple-Google Exposure Notification System were clear - collecting any location data was a no-no.


The app team knew that when they switched to it last summer, having discovered that going it alone with their own system was just not practical.


But they may have assumed that, because the sharing of locations by users was optional, the tech giants might show some flexibility. Instead, Apple and Google have insisted that rules are rules.


What this underlines is that governments around the world have been forced to frame part of their response to the global pandemic according to rules set down by giant unelected corporations.


At a time when the power of the tech giants is under the microscope as never before, that will leave many people feeling uncomfortable.


The plan had been to ask users to upload logs of venue check-ins - carried out via poster barcode scans - if they tested positive for the virus. This could be used to warn others.


The update had been timed to coincide with the relaxation of lockdown rules. But both Apple and Google had explicitly banned such a function from the start.


Under the terms that all health authorities signed up to in order to use Apple and Google's privacy-centric contact-tracing tech, they had to agree not to collect any location data via the software.


As a result, Apple and Google refused to make the update available for download from their app stores last week, and have instead kept the old version live. For more on this, read the full BBC report.


10.0F - Apple News


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